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Cablegate: Trading with Iraq

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS KUWAIT 001779

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD ECON IZ KU
SUBJECT: TRADING WITH IRAQ

REF: A. STATE 104141
B. KUWAIT 1213
C. KUWAIT 1578
D. KUWAIT 1617
E. KUWAIT 1683

1. Post responses are provided to questions posed in reftel.

Q: WE UNDERSTAND THAT IRAQ HAS COMPLETED FREE TRADE
AGREEMENTS WITH A NUMBER OF OTHER COUNTRIES. IF HOST
GOVERNMENT HAS AN FTA WITH IRAQ, WHAT IS THE EXTENT OF THE
AGREEMENT? I.E. DOES IT SIMPLY COVER GOODS, OR DOES IT
COVER OTHER AREAS AS WELL? WHAT IS THE STATUS OF THIS
AGREEMENT? WITH CHANGE IN IRAQ'S REGIME, IS IT STILL
VALID? WHERE DOES IMPLEMENTATION STAND ON THESE
AGREEMENTS AND THE PAN ARAB FREE TRADE AGREEMENT?

A: Post contacts confirm that Kuwait does not currently have
an FTA with Iraq.


Q: WHAT DO YOUR HOST GOVERNMENT AND LOCAL BUSINESS PEOPLE
THINK OF THE PROSPECTS OF TRADE WITH IRAQ? WAS THERE A
TRADITIONAL LINK THAT WILL BE RE-ESTABLISHED? DO THEY
EXPECT IT TO POSITIVELY OR NEGATIVELY AFFECT DOMESTIC
MARKETS? DO THEY STILL HAVE BUSINESS CONTACTS IN IRAQ?

A. Post has reported extensively on Kuwait's views on doing
business with a post-Saddam Iraq (see reftels). In short,
Kuwait has extensive historical, trade, and family ties with
Iraq that it hopes to quickly reestablish and exploit. In
the short run Kuwaitis hope to profit generously from
reestablished trade with Iraq, but realize that without
significant domestic economic reform the country stands to be
left behind as the Iraqi economy becomes a magnet for
investment. Kuwait has not traded with Iraq since the 1990
invasion, but is working to reestablish pre-invasion business
ties.


Q. WHAT CAN HOST COUNTRY CONTACTS TELL US ABOUT THE
CUSTOMS REGIME UNDER SADDAM, PRE AND POST SANCTIONS? WAS
THERE AN IMPORT TARIFF REGIME? WERE THERE OTHER FEES OR
ASSESSMENTS? WAS THERE A FUNCTIONING CUSTOMS REGIME,
ELEMENTS OF WHICH COULD BE RETAINED UNDER A NEW IRAQI
REGIME (OR INTERIM AUTHORITY).

A. Post is working with Kuwait Customs on these questions, to
be reported septel.


Q. UNDERSTANDING THAT ANY TRADE OUTSIDE OF THE FOOD FOR
OIL PROGRAM WAS NOT LEGAL AND THEREFORE MAY NOT HAVE BEEN
CLOSELY MONITORED BY OFFICIAL SOURCES. TO THE EXTENT
POSSIBLE, WE ARE INTERESTED IN KNOWING TRADE STATISTICS
FROM 1999-2001. EVEN ESTIMATES WOULD BE HELPFUL.

A. Kuwait has not traded with Iraq since the 1990 invasion.


Q. WHAT KINDS OF ASSISTANCE DO YOU FORESEE BEING REQUIRED
BY IRAQ TO ENABLE TRADE TO COMMENCE ONCE SANCTIONS ARE
LIFTED? WHAT TYPES OF SHORT, MEDIUM TERM TRADE-RELATED
ASSISTANCE DO YOU THINK IRAQI AUTHORITIES REQUIRE?

A. Please see refs B and D. It is worth noting that at a
recent Kuwait Economic Society meeting on Iraqi
reconstruction, the chairman of the Finance and Economic
Committee of the National Assembly called on the GOK to
create a company to guarantee Kuwaiti investment in Iraq.
JONES

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